The first time, it wasn’t so much as breaking Naveed’s heart so much as shredding it. Cory managed to run Naveed’s heart through a shredder.
They were struggling out of the pit they’d dug themselves into after their tumble in Cory’s sheets, swiftly moving their friendship from ‘friends’ into ‘something more’. And then Cory slept with some random girl. And Naveed? Naveed had avoided Cory, unable to look into those beautiful eyes and feel anything other than acrid betrayal. He was sitting, predictably, with Nas, lamenting and mourning the loss of the beautiful, tangible thing that they could’ve been. For some shining, golden hours, Naveed could’ve reached out and touched it, it was so...so there.
“Cory.” He mumbled to Nas, who turned sharply to look.
“Naveed, he’s coming over.” Naveed could feel the inner corner of his eyes and his nose start to sting. Not again. “I’m gonna give you room to talk.” Nas squeezed his wrist as she got up and left. “Come talk to me if you need me, okay?” Naveed nodded, watching Nas go for a moment before fixing his eyes on the sickening blue of the bench. His eyes dragged up unwillingly as Cory sat down, before darting away and refusing to make eye contact.
“You don’t need to explain yourself.” All of Naveed felt heavy as he said it, like the hot, acrid fire of betrayal had seeped out when he made eye contact with Cory and had left a hollowed-out husk of a Naveed behind. He could feel Cory watching him, uncomfortable pickles dancing across his skin.
“I wouldn’t even know how to.” Naveed felt something, in the cold, dead, hollowed-out part of him. Triumphant, rushing anger that he tamped down. “One thing just lead to another-” Naveed squeezed his eyes shut and shook his head. Of course. Of course. Of fucking course Cory would say that, the typical ‘it was a mistake’ line. He was letting him down ‘gently’ and Naveed hated him for it.
Not that he could actually hate Cory, but...well. “Naveed, what happened the other night-”
“Don’t.” Naveed felt bile rise up and his throat constrict. He didn’t want to talk about the shame he felt coursing within him for believing Cory, for kidding himself that they could have been something. Together. He didn’t need Cory to tell him that he’d been stupid: he knew.
“You’re my mate. And this is stopping us from being friends.” Naveed felt like screaming. He could feel his heart, that fucking Cory fucking Wilson shattered yesterday, disintegrating and flying into a hot fire. He clenched his jaw. Fucking Cory fucking Wilson. He felt the anger build up; the loss of a tangible love, and the disintegration of his heart getting too painful.
“Then why did you do it?” He exploded, quietly, like Naveed. He’s not fire and brimstone, like Cory; his anger is more slow moving, like poison gas. He made eye contact with Cory, hoping that his eyes could convey the pain and hurt that Cory had inflicted upon him. “You knew how I felt, and don’t say that you didn’t.” Naveed was seething. Seeing this beautiful boy, the one who’d held his heart in his hands and crushed it, trying to fucking distance himself from his, quote unquote, ‘mate’ was maybe the most painful part of all of this.
“You’re my best friend.” Was the answer he got eventually. Naveed sighed. “And the other night...you were upset…”
“What? So now it were charity?” More lies that Cory had pressed into his skin and whispered in his ear. More betrayal. Cory looked offended.
“I don’t need your pity, Cory.” Naveed spat, eyes and nose fizzing.
“Oh, who’re you kidding?” Naveed could feel his being wavering, trembling for Cory. Mainly, he felt sick. Angry at Cory, for doing this, angry at himself, for believing fucking Cory fucking Wilson. He got up, and immediately got blocked by Cory. They were so close that Naveed had to tilt his head slightly to look into Cory’s eyes. He hated him for making him feel small.
“Naveed.” Cory’s anger was simmering in his eyes, lazily swimming through the brown, curling around what could’ve been desperation. “This ain’t just about you, okay? How do you think I felt?” Naveed scoffed. The poor boy, finding another victim to sleep with. Oh yes, how hard for Cory.
“I thought I knew.” He hoped his words hurt. Cory definitely looked taken aback.
“I wanted to be with you that night.” Cory had gone for placating, but it just annoyed Naveed now. “I don’t know why, it just felt right.” What bullshit. Naveed pushed past Cory. “Wait!” Cory grabbed him.
“Get off me!” Why did his touch still send slight shivers through Naveed? After everything, his heart couldn’t stop beating for him. His touch felt like fire, and not in a good way. Not anymore.
“I’m trying to be honest with ya!” They were both frustrated now. Good, Naveed thought, pleasure twisting savagely in his gut. “It didn’t mean the same to me as it did to you.” Cory had gone quiter again, revealing the honest vulnerable side, again, just like that night. Naveed was so stupid for believing him. “I wish I could be what you want me to be, but I can’t.” Naveed could find humor in that at least. Cory’s exactly what he wants, he is who Naveed wants him to be.
“Who’s lying to himself now?” Cory gritted his teeth.
“Fine.” Cory’s dam had broken. “You know what: I’m not gay, you’re not straight. Let’s both just get over it.” Naveed knew that Cory was aiming to hurt, but he didn’t expect it to hurt this much. Even whilst bracing himself, it still felt like a punch to the gut.
Cory had single handedly broken and shredded Naveed’s heart in the space of about 24 hours.
The next time it happened, it was AS levels. They were friends, now. Kind of. They’d made up later the same week, but Naveed couldn’t help his heart from jumping every time that Cory touched him. Hell, everytime that Cory so much as smiled in his general direction, Naveed could feel his weak, pathetic heart melt. So when Naveed caught Cory staring at him, he couldn’t stop hope from festering inside. Every time Naveed looked up, Cory was watching him, eyes dark and bubbling, roiling with something Naveed didn’t want to think about, that squeezed his poor, fragmented heart more than he could handle. Nevertheless, the pit at the bottom of his stomach set alight, burning relentlessly. When Cory’s hand wrapped around his wrist after chemistry, tight enough to bruise, maybe if Naveed struggled, Naveed allowed himself to be led through the corridors. They headed up and around and the corridors cleared out. Cory’s hand dropped from his wrist and twined with his fingers, gently tugging him along. Naveed stopped dead, pulling Cory to a stop.
“Mate, are you sure?” Naveed fixed his gaze on Cory’s left ear (those eyes were still smouldering and Naveed is too weak) and saw the small, but genuine, smile spread across his best friends face.
“Nav,” Cory whispered, stepping close, so close that the toes of their shoes touched. “Nav.” Naveed gulped, the warmth in that single word making his knees wobble. Cory’s hand ghosted over his cheek. “Nav, please.” Naveed flickered his eyes to Cory’s. He closed his eyes gently, knowing he was done for, absolutely fucking whipped for this huge dickwad. He made eye contact with Cory and smiled slightly.
“Anything.” he whispered, pressing into Cory’s hand. “Anything.”
And when Cory stumbled out of the bathroom after attempting to fix his appearance, Naveed was left curled against the plastic divider of the stalls in the teachers’ bathroom. He closed his eyes, feeling empty, yet still...satisfied (fucking Cory fucking Wilson). Naveed felt pathetic. Naveed was pathetic. Cory had walked out without a second glance, leaving his best mate curled on the floor. Naveed felt hot tears trickling down his cheeks and sobs building behind his ribcage.
When Naveed approached Nasreen later that free period after staggering out of the bathroom where his heart remained on the floor, she needed no prompting and held him closely until he felt a little more whole and warm.
The third time was the worst. Cory had shown up, shaking, under Naveed’s window, crying too much to get any words out. Naveed had guided him upstairs and held him on his bed. He brushed tears away from those eyes that held his whole world. Naveed held Cory as he broke apart and then slowly, slowly, attempted to help piece him back together.
“He’s, he’s gone, Nav.” Cory wheezed, at some point, when the tears were still trickling down slightly too-hollow cheeks. Naveed cupped his face and pressed their foreheads together.
“It’s okay, you’re okay.” He soothed, smoothing his thumb over Cory’s cheek. Cory shook his head, trembling lips pressed firmly together.
“It’s not.” He gasped out, leaning into Naveed. “I’ve fuckin’-I’ve fuckin’ lost my brother. It’s-I’m- no.” Naveed pulled Cory closer, tucking Cory underneath his chin.
“You have me.” Naveed whispered, fingers running through Cory’s hair. “Cory,” Cory shook his head. “Cory. You’ll always have me.” Cory pulled himself away, peering at Naveed through reddened eyes. His lower lip trembled. Naveed pressed his thumb in the centre of Cory’s lip and gave him a ghost of a smile. Cory’s eyes fluttered closed and he relaxed slightly.
“Nav.” Cory whispered, curling his hand around Naveed’s wrist. “I don’t have you the way I want you.” The air stilled, draped over them like a physical blanket. They made eye contact. Naveed cupped Cory’s face, watched as he pushed into his palm, and smiled gently, no more than a quirk of his lips.
“Cory.” Naveed breathed over his lips. “You can have me in anyway you want me.” Someone moved and their lips collided, again. A smooth glide, unhurried and unrushed. They both knew where this was going. But quiet, today: Naveed’s mum was about. They tangled together in Naveed’s sheets, biting each other’s shoulders to keep the noises inside. Then they lay in the same bed, sweat cooling on their skin. Cory curled his little finger around Naveed’s. Naveed lay there, post-orgasm, feeling a sour feeling spread through his chest, congealing in his stomach and fizzing in his fingers. He wanted to curl up on himself and nurse his broken, gangrenous heart. These feelings he had couldn’t last. He’d fucked himself over, again. He’d let Cory use him, again.
When Cory untangled their pinkies and collected his clothes, Naveed didn’t stop him. He curled in on himself, feeling his heart stab with every breath, and watched Cory leave, again.
It was Mrs Carter’s idea to have a winter formal.
“It’s so spur you on for the coming year!” she said in assembly to all of the Year 13s. “Think of this as a reward for doing well on mocks.” Cory and Riz were ecstatic, Naveed was...excited? He supposed so, looking around at all of the other smiling faces, friends huddling together to discuss plans.
“Who you gonna take, bro?” Naveed’s shoulder got bumped by Riz, jerking him into the here and now. Naveed laughed, no more than a huff of air.
“Why not?” Naveed stilled, staring at Cory bemusedly. He threw his hand out to broadly encompass the school.
“That’s why not.” Naveed smiled mirthlessly. “You think there’s any person in this school who wants to go with me.” Riz laughed softly and bumped his shoulder (attempting to show that he believed Naveed to be lying, but unable to put thoughts into words), but Naveed couldn’t tear his eyes away from Cory, and the swirling mysteries within. Cory fell back and bumped his shoulder into Naveed.
“If my shoulder bruises, I’m blaming you and Riz!” Cory laughed, slightly, eyes dark and serious, swirling with sincerity. A few moments and then-
“What are you two doing? Stop making out: we have lessons to go to and exams to pass.” Cory laughed, immediately going over to Riz and slinging an arm around his shoulder. Naveed felt his heart freeze over before forcing a smile and catching up with his friends.
“Oh, Nav!” Nas opened her door, looking stunning in her get up. “I love your suit!” Naveed smiled, smoothing down his rainbow tie.
“Dad got it for me. Mum hates it,” he said, stepping into their house. “But I love it.” Nasreen laughed.
“Give me a few minutes and we’ll go and get Missy. Thanks again for taking her.” Naveed smiled, muttering a “No problem.” and nodding at a suited Sam sitting on the sofa. Soon enough, they were stepping into the frigid air. They wound through the streets, Missy looping her arm through Naveed’s.
“So,” Missy said as they stepped onto school grounds, eyes alight with mischief. “Got your eyes on any fitties?” Naveed’s laugh trailed off as they walked into the decked out hall and he saw Cory, looking ethereal underneath the lights and so, so put together in a suit, smile so wide and so beautiful and gorgeous and- “Cory?” Naveed looked at Missy. He gulped. “It’s okay.” she said, flashing her teeth at him before flouncing off. “I won’t tell anyone. He’s well fit, though.” Her voice dropped low. “For what it’s worth, I reckon you have a chance. Thanks for taking me, Naveed!” Missy yelled over her shoulder and Naveed watched her walk towards her friends before wandering off himself.
“Missy Booth? Bold, Nav, even for you.” Riz clapped a hand on his shoulder.
“Nah, just doin’ her a favour, aren’t I? Can’t go ‘cause she’s not in Year 13.” The crowd parted and Naveed caught sight of Cory again, with his hands rested upon a girl’s waist, pulling her closer gently, a soft smile plastered on his face. Riz pulled Naveed closer to him.
“I’m sorry, mate.” Riz murmured into his ear. “I thought-” Naveed pulled away, heart twisting to breaking point.
“So did I.” And he left, pushing his way out into the cold air and shivering on one of the picnic benches.
Naveed wondered how much more his heart could take.
Maybe if he stayed out here long enough, the cold would numb it so much that he couldn’t feel it ache every time he looked at Cory. (It didn’t work. All he achieved was a bad cold.)
Naveed had kept himself whole since the winter formal. He’d taken his A Levels, applied for university and branched out his friends. He’d distanced himself enough from Cory that they didn’t breach the line between friendship and lovers again. They were still best friends and Naveed still had a monster-sized crush on Cory, but they were good. They were chill.
And they were at Riz’s.
“Gotta answer this, boys.” Riz had apologized, halfway through their second movie and about five minutes after they’d stopped grilling Cory on his potential girlfriend (of course it was the same girl he’d taken to the winter formal, all those long months ago. Of course it bloody was), before stepping out of the room and disappearing into his room. Naveed had frozen on his side of the sofa and glanced towards Cory, who was sat at the other end. Naveed kept placing Riz in between them, and disappearing when he wasn’t around. How could he get out of this?
“It’d be a bit weird if you walked off in the middle of a movie that you wanted to watch.” Naveed snapped his head around to look at Cory. His jaw was clenched, but his eyes were trained upon the TV and his hands were resting casually upon his knee and the arm of the chair.
“I’m not gonna walk off.” Naveed blustered, feeling panic bubble slightly in his throat. “That’d be...that’d be…” Cory turned and fixed him with an unimpressed stare.
“Naveed.” Naveed flinched.
“When did you stop calling me ‘Nav, man’?”
“When did you start avoiding me?” Naveed froze, his mouth opening and closing like a fish. Cory chuckled darkly. Naveed felt his lower lip tremble and a rushing bitter feeling rose up in him like a tide.
“I don’t know, Cory, maybe it was around the time that you started methodically crushing my heart into tiny pieces.” The words he spat hung in the air, tightening around his throat. Cory looked like Naveed had turned into a giant snake in front of him. They stayed staring at each other, in anger and horror respectively, for a few tense moments before Naveed groaned, fight rushing out of him, sinking into the sofa and dragging a hand down his face.
“Nav.” Cory choked out a hand reaching out for Naveed. Naveed curled away, just about keeping the tears at bay. “Nav, please, oh god.” Cory moved closer to Naveed. “Nav.” A hand rested on his shoulder and Naveed jumped up, wrapping his arms tightly around himself and harshly rubbing his shoulder where Cory had touched it. It still tingled a bit. Cory was sat next to where Naveed had been, wide eyes and a pleading hand reaching out for him.
“Cory,” Naveed said, voice shaking and no idea where he’d wanted to go with the sentence. “Don’t.” Naveed couldn’t tear his eyes away from Cory’s big, round, and pleading eyes. He hadn’t dropped his hand down yet.
“Naveed.” He sounded choked. Naveed felt the walls he had spent time and effort and time building around his heart crumbling and crumbling and crumbling down. “Naveed.”
“Cory-” His voice cracked and he could feel tears building in his eyes. Cory scrambled up, hand hovering just over Naveed’s cheek.
“Nav, man, I’m-”
“Hey, guys, catch me up on the movie?” Naveed turned away from Cory and faced Riz. He cleared his throat, and took a few steps back from Cory.
“Uh, sorry Riz, I’ve gotta go.” Naveed choked out, brushing past Riz and leaving. He stepped out into the warm summers day, just about hearing Riz questioning Cory. Naveed walked away as quickly as he could, dashing away his tears with cold hands and a hollow reverberation ringing in his chest. The remains of his heart’s walls stabbed into him with every breath. He risked one look back at Riz’s house, seeing both of them watching him go, Cory with Riz’s arm wrapped around his shoulder.
‘I can’t do this anymore, Cory,” Naveed thought, stumbling slightly. “I really, really can’t.”
Naveed rested against the door of the Paracha’s house after he knocked, feeling the tears dribble down his face. He felt a mess, and this was probably reflected on the outside. The door opened and Salim stood there, wordlessly showing him in.
“Nasreen! Your gay friend is here to see you!” A clatter on the stairs and Nas appeared, face immediately softening when she saw Naveed.
“Oh, Nav.” she said, hugging him tightly. “Want to tell me what happened?”
“You have a thing for Cory!?” Sam asked, face twisting. Naveed nodded miserably.
“Cory has a thing back for you?” Naveed made eye contact with Missy and laughed wetly.
“No, that’s the whole problem.”
“Naveed, if he keeps sleeping with you and seems genuinely affected by you not being around, then he-” Nas clapped her hand over Missy’s mouth, muffling the rest of the sentence.
“He doesn’t!” Sam and Missy exchanged disbelieving glances.
“Besides,” interjected Nas. “Cory has a girlfriend, from what Naveed’s said. And he was rude.” Naveed nodded.
“Who is it?” Naveed shrugged.
“I try to avoid them, don’t I?” The girls fixed him with unimpressed stares and Naveed sighed. “She’s nice, got curly brown hair that’s quite short? I think she’s in, like, Year 12? Hung around with us, like, once a week? Her and Cory would always just talk to each other. He kept, like, disappearing when they first started maybe dating during our free period. What?”
“What’s her name?” Missy exploded. Naveed scratched his ear, cheeks heating up.
“I don’t know, do I? Tried to avoid them. And her. Her name might...might begin with an ‘E’ or an ‘A’?” Missy and Sam exchanged looks.
“Short, dark skin?” Missy questioned. Naveed nodded. “Emily!?” Naveed’s nod prompted Missy to cackle. “You’re joking, Nav!” Naveed and Nas exchanged confused looks.
“I don’t think he is joking, Missy.” Missy cackled again and Sam chuckled.
“Emily Cartwright is queer.” Sam jumped in, mirth dancing in her eyes. “And unless Cory’s trans, I doubt she’d have any interest in him at all.” Missy cackled as Naveed felt his cheeks heat up.
“Doesn’t she have someone in Year 11 anyway?” Missy asked, prompting Nas to gasp.
“That nonbinary kid!?” Missy nodded. Nas fixed Naveed with an incredulous look. “You were jealous of someone who’s only attracted to transgender people!? Naveed!”
Riz was standing at his door, just behind his mum.
“Ah, mum.” Naveed said, hurrying through to try and rescue Riz from his mum. “It’s Riz, no he’s not gay, no we won’t do anything.” He pulled on his shoes as quickly as possible and ushered Riz away. They trailed through the streets in a companionable silence.
“I kind of wanted to have this discussion more private.” Naveed snorted.
“With my mum in that house, yelling it into a microphone would me more private, trust me.” Riz laughed. “I’m sorry. For leaving the other day.” Naveed felt guilt press uncomfortably onto his diaphragm. Riz knocked their shoulders together.
“It’s okay, mate.” he said, ignoring Naveed’s muttering of “Is that the only way you know how to show affection?”. “Cory said he did some stuff. Really beating himself up.” Naveed felt his heart twist uncomfortably, guiltily. He sighed.
“It’s not just Cory’s fault.”
“He seemed to think it was. Wouldn’t tell me anything: said it was yours to tell.” Silence, and then- “Mate, what happened?” Naveed looked off into the distance.
“Me and Cory slept together.” Riz whistled lowly. “In Year 12. After Hayley’s 16th. And then he slept with Shannon the next day.” Riz’s mouth had dropped open.
“Oh my god, Naveed,” Riz began but Naveed laughed and cut him off.
“And then he told me that he didn’t know why he wanted to sleep with me that night, but it just ‘felt right’. I was fucking in love with him and he knew and he still slept with me and then someone else right after.”
“You’re in love with Cory?” Naveed felt tears building.
“I have been for, like, two years, haven’t I?” Riz squeezed Naveed’s shoulder.
“I’m not even close to finished.” Riz’s mouth dropped open, again. “We hooked up in a bathroom during AS exams, and again when Jordan went to do that art course. And he left me every time. He’d say these things that made me love him more and then he’d just leave without a second glance. The third time,” Naveed made eye contact. “The third time, he told me he “didn’t have me the way he wanted me” and then left without saying bye.”
“What the fuck.” breathed Riz. “What the fuck happened. That's such a dick move. I'm surprised you don't hate him.” Naveed huffed a laugh.
“And then he took that girl to the dance and apparently she’s dating a Year 11? And she was hanging around all the time, and they kept disappearing during free periods together, but she’s been dating someone for ages? And then at your house,” Naveed whirled to a stop. “He fucking pretends to care, doesn’t he? I say one thing because after the third time he hurt me I refused to do it again and I knew I needed to distance myself from him-”
“That’s what happened? That’s why he kept being salty if I asked where you were?”
“He was salty?” Riz laughed.
“I’d ask him where you were and he’d be like “How am I supposed to know?” like you’d kicked his fucking dog or something.”
“He consistently breaks my heart and then acts like I’m not supposed to actually hate him for the fucking rigmarole he’s put me through?” Riz shrugged.
“Cory doesn’t go back to the same person often. Especially not over months, like you.”
“What are you suggesting, Riz?” Naveed’s voice was about as threatening as it could get.
“Nothing!” Riz held up his hands. “I think Cory might have some sort of feelings for you but he's not dealt with them very well. Based on my own observations.” Naveed furrowed his eyebrows.
“If this is what his feelings look like, I'm not sure I want them.”
Naveed lay in his bed: too hot, too cold with the desk fan he’d stolen from his dad’s office on. Plain uncomfortable, really.
And, also, sad and alone.
Sad and alone with a head full of thoughts placed there by every single one of his friends that he’d spoken to recently.
And a phone in airplane mode discarded underneath the bed. Ever since he’d walked out of Riz’s house last week, his phone had kept making text notification sounds punctuated by the occasional ringing. Naveed just...didn’t. He couldn’t.
He rolled over, stared at his ceiling, and sighed. He’d been in his room for several hours and the shadows started to lengthen. His parents were out? Maybe? Naveed wasn’t sure, and he wasn’t sure he cared.
Someone’s just knocked on the front door. Naveed dragged himself out of bed and hurried down the stairs, pulling open the door to slam it into Cory’s face. Naveed pressed himself against the door, fully awake.
“Nav, man.” Cory said through the door. “Will you please talk?” Naveed pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes and sank down the door, trying desperately not to cry loud enough that Cory could hear. “Naveed Haider!” Sharp raps on the door. “Open this goddamn door before I smash it open! Don’t fucking test me!” A few beats, then- “I’m going to call Nasreen!” Naveed launched up and opened the door, glaring at Cory.
“I thought I was pretty clear,” He managed to choke out icily, “That I didn’t want to talk to you.”
“Yeah, well. I wanted to talk to you.” Cory forced himself in and closed the door. Naveed backed away, leaving a few feet of insurmountable space between them. “Are, um, your parents home?” Cory ran his hand through his hair.
“Uh...no? I, uh, I think they’re out?” Cory nodded, shuffling towards Naveed.
“Don’t come any closer to me.” Cory flinched, slightly.
“Naveed.” His voice cracked.
“Don’t!” Naveed yelled, his voice reverberating through the emptiness of his house. “You’ve hurt me enough! Do you have any idea how painful it is to see your face, to have you act like I mean to you and then you crawl back when you need a relief? It. Fucking. Sucks. You have me on a string and I hate it!” Cory looked taken aback.
“Don’t ‘Nav man’ me, Cory!” Naveed pinched the bridge of his nose. “I can’t do this.” He sounded strangled. “I really can’t. Maybe you should go.”
“I'm sorry.” Cory said as he slunk out of the house. “For what it's worth, I'm sorry.”
“Oh go tell that to your girlfriend.”
“We're not dating!” Naveed slammed the door in Cory’s face and sunk down the inside, tears rolling down his nose. The slam echoed around the house with a finality that signalled the end of their friendship.
Riz pulled the door open with an unimpressed look.
“Naveed!” Riz’s face broke open into a huge smile. “I'm so glad you could make it!” Naveed shuffled awkwardly, cold nipping at his face and hands. Riz ushered him into the warmth of the house and the conglomeration of bodies in the living room.
“Yeah.” Riz said softly. “Cory's in there.” Naveed felt his stomach turn but he walked in anyway. It had been a while since they'd seen each other.
“Naveed!” Cory's voice greeted him. “Hi.” Naveed let his eyes trail over Cory: the scruff that was littering his jaw line, the way his cheeks had filled out to a bit healthier, and the way his fingers were linked with someone's. “This is my boyfriend, Ben. Ben, this is Naveed.” Ben reached out for a handshake.
“Alright mate?” Naveed was surprised to hear that he was Welsh. “You're the comedian, right? Ah, I love your stuff!”
After a bemusing conversation with Cory and his boyfriend, Naveed went over to Riz.
“He has a boyfriend?” Riz chuckled.
“You went off to uni and Cory went off to Wales and found a boy.”
“Is he happy?”
“I am.” Naveed jumped.
“Holy shit fuck Cory Jesus.” Cory and Riz laughed.
“I'm sorry, Naveed. For the way I treated you in sixth form. It was shitty and awful. I hope you can forgive me?” Cory smiled that smile. The one that always used to get Naveed’s heart racing.
Today it stayed level. Naveed looked into the boy-he-used-to-love’s eyes and smiled, genuinely.
“Of course, mate. Friends?”